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Full text of "My Country And My People"

Il6          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

restraint and its ceremonialism.

In the meanwhile, Taoism widened its sphere, and included
under its arts medicine (or secret knowledge of the herbs),
physiology and cosmogony (all more or less symbolically
explained on the basis of the yin and yang principles and the
Five Elements), magic, witchcraft, aphrodisiacs, incantations,
astrology, a good hierarchy of gods, some beautiful legends, a
priesthood and a pope—all those paraphernalia that go to
make up a good, solid popular religion. It took care, too, of
Chinese athletics, by specializing in boxing, and the com-
bination of boxing and witchcraft produced the Huangchin
Rebellion at the end of the Han Dynasty. Last of all, it offered
a formula for bodily hygiene, chiefly by deep-breathing, leading
up to immortality by ascent to heaven on the back of a stork.
Its most useful word was cKi (air? breath? spirit?) which, being
invisible, was most susceptible of "mystic" handling. The
application of this cKi was practically universal, from the rays
of a comet to boxing, deep-breathing and sexual union, which
was sedulously practised as an art (with preference for virgins),
in the cause of prolongation of life. Taoism was, in short, the
Chinese attempt to discover the mysteries of nature.

V. BUDDHISM

Buddhism is the only important foreign influence that has
become part and parcel of Chinese life. The influence is so
deep that we now speak of children's dolls, and sometimes
the children themselves, as "little buddhisatvas" (hsiao p'usa),
and the Empress Dowager herself was addressed as "Old
Buddha/3 The Goddess of Mercy and the smiling Buddha
have become Chinese household words. Buddhism has affected
our language, our food, our arts, our sculpture and directly
inspired the characteristic pagoda. It has stimulated our
literature and our whole world of imagination. The little
monkish figure, with his bald head and his grey robes, forms
an intimate part of any panorama of society, and Buddhist
temples, rather than those of Confucius, are the centre of the
town and village life, where the elders gather to decide on